Welsh regions scramble to leave South Africa before even playing a match as season plunged into chaos amid dramatic Covid development


Cardiff and the Scarlets are looking to try and fly home from South Africa on Friday with the country being placed on the UK’s Covid red travel list.

They were due to play back-to-back United Rugby Championship games against the Lions and the Stormers and the Sharks and Bulls respectively.

But those fixtures are set to be scrapped, with South Africa one of six countries being added to the UK Government’s red list amid warnings over a worrying new coronavirus variant.

The priority now is getting the two squads home as soon as possible.

Anyone arriving in the UK from South Africa after 4am this Sunday, November 28, will have to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.

That would have a major impact on the two Welsh regions’ preparations for their opening Champions Cup matches.

Cardiff welcome holders Toulouse to the Arms Park on Saturday, December 11, with the Scarlets away to Bristol later the same day.

Getting the squads back home ahead of this Sunday’s cut-off point is all the more problematic as scheduled flights from South Africa are being suspended.

WalesOnline understands both regions are attempting to arrange charter flights for Friday.

Cardiff are currently in Cape Town, while the Scarlets are almost 1,000 miles away in Durban.

The squad from the Arms Park includes Wales squad members Rhys Priestland, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Rhys Carré, Owen Lane, Kirby Myhill and Ben Thomas.

As for the Scarlets, they have all their Welsh stars on board, including the likes of Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Johnny McNicholl, Gareth Davies, Johnny Williams and Kieran Hardy.

These two rounds of away matches against the Super Rugby provinces were originally due to be played in Italy due to Covid issues, but they were then switched to South Africa once the country was taken off the UK’s red travel list.

Now the situation has changed again in dramatic fashion.

One expert described the new coronavirus variant, known as B.1.1.529, as “the worst one we’ve seen so far”, and there is concern it has the potential to evade immunity.

So far, 59 confirmed cases have been identified in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.

If Cardiff and the Scarlets do manage to get home before the Sunday 4am cut-off, it is unclear whether they will still have to observe some form of quarantine or isolation.

It has been reported that anyone returning before then will be asked to isolate at home, but further clarification is being sought on that by the two teams.

The six countries are being added to the red list from 12 noon on Friday.

Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack has tweeted on Thursday night: “Many will have seen the news about the new Covid variant that affects our Scarlets people in South Africa. We are focused on the welfare of our staff in South Africa and the concern of their families at home. We are exploring all options to repatriate our people asap.”

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Source link : https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/welsh-regions-scramble-leave-south-22281094

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Publish date : 2021-11-25 23:29:38

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